I have a strong stomach for risk and adventure. This hike weirded me out a couple of times though.
We decided to finally (it had been on my list for well over a year) hike to the Red Top Lookout. It’s a fire lookout in central Washington. It is still in use during the summer by the Forest Service.
Once we made the 9 mile drive up the dirt road I loaded up my camera and small backpack and we set out on the trail. Everything was going fine – the sun was out and we didn’t have a care in the world.
From the parking area there are two ways up to the tower. One way was a half mile straight up and the other was a little longer trail but gentler climb up the back of the ridge. We chose to hike up the back of the ridge on the way up.
We encountered thin patches of snow on the trail. This was not a big deal at all except they seemed to be placed exactly where the trail was narrow (sometimes only 6 inches wide) and the trail surface sloped to the downhill. Chester and Gretel were fine but I had visions of slipping off the trail every time I gingerly crossed one.
We took the first left, as the hand-written note on the sign instructed, and departed from the gently rolling trail for a moderate climb through a short patch of trees. After going through the trees we came out on the back side of a steep, bare slope. The trail headed straight up the side of the hill towards the tower.
Part way up the trail Chester tripped on something and took a digger with his face in the dirt. Then while I was fiddling with my camera I hadn’t noticed they had stopped in the trail. When I looked up I almost tripped over them. I nearly missed taking a nasty tumble and/or squashing the dogs.
After that I started to get nervous because I realized I had broken my number one rule. I hadn’t told anyone exactly where I was going. There was no one up there. We were alone.
Once you got to the top of the ridge there was slippery mud everywhere but you couldn’t see it to avoid it. It looked like just regular dirt but when you stepped on in the fine soil liquefied and became slick.
The trail at the outcrop underneath the tower was on an uneven, jagged hunk of rock. I stumbled a few times up there. Of course, Gretel the Billy Goat had no problem.
Chester and Gretel were straining at the leash to look down the 400 foot rock face getting way too close to the edge for my liking. I tried to get some pictures but trying to juggle them, and the camera while being careful not to trip and fall off the rock was harrowing.
The views were amazing though so it was hard to leave.
We headed down after about 15 minutes. On the way back down took the shorter steeper route down the front side. It was super steep and Gretel and Chester were pulling me hard downhill. All the while I still had to contend with the slick mud and snow patches.
I was glad to make it back to the car so I could relax my nerves. It was a beautiful hike and probably one of the shortest trails I had ever climbed to get such a great view. I probably wouldn’t recommend it though if you are afraid of heights or have two dogs that will try and trip you up or pull you off of a cliff 🙂
Ok…so we didn’t really almost die….but if there was one time we hadn’t caught ourselves when we tripped we could have.